Throughout 2014, the Tennessee Division of Forestry (TDF) is celebrating a century of forest conservation, protection and enhancement.
Tennessee's first state forester began work Sept. 1, 1914 with a focus on wildfire control and reforestation of "waste" land. Today, the focus is still on wildfire control, but also on promoting forestland values and benefits, forest health and forest productivity.
The Division of Forestry's humble beginnings were in the statute for the State Geologic Survey to conduct "An investigation of forests, streams and water powers of the state, with special reference to their conservation and development for industrial purposes." To carry out the purposes of these two provisions, the Geological Commission established a Forestry Division on the Survey on Feb. 17, 1914.
Today, Tennessee's forests cover 14 million acres (52 percent) of the state. Our forests are prized, much due to the efforts of TDF over the past 100 years, for a great number of benefits including beauty, wildlife habitat, timber production, recreation, air and water quality, energy conservation, carbon sequestration, enhanced property values, storm water control and natural heritage. These benefits, however, face significant threats in the form of wildfire, insect and disease, lack of proper management and urban expansion. So, there is much work still to be done.
As we celebrate TDF's past accomplishments throughout this Centennial year, we look forward to what the Division of Forestry will do over the next 100 years to continue to conserve, protect and enhance the forest resources of the state.